Evelyn Jacobs Ortner Center on Family Violence
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Misperceptions of Domestic Violence
In the wake of the public release of video showing an American football player punching his then-fiancÚ in the face and dragging her unconscious out of an elevator, the issue of domestic violence is again in the spotlight.

Susan B. Sorenson, public health specialist, national expert on violence prevention and the director of the Evelyn Jacobs Ortner Center on Family Violence points to two common misperceptions which compromise the handling of domestic violence cases. According to Dr. Sorenson:

1. "She didn't press charges" is often used as a reason for why charges aren't brought against abusers. However, when domestic abusers are charged with felony assault, it's a criminal offense which does not require a victim to press charges.

2. Too often, prosecutors and the public believe that requiring an abuser to participate in counseling is sufficient to address the abuse. According to Dr. Sorensen, there is little evidence that either individual counseling or group counseling of batterers is effective. "Given the lack of evidence, participation in such programs should not be used as a replacement for criminal charges."

Originally posted in the Center for High Impact's blog post, "Domestic Violence: Turning 'Why does she stay?' into 'How can I help?'" http://www.impact.upenn.edu/blog/page/domestic_violence_turning_why_she_stays_to_how_i_help
How the Evelyn Jacobs Ortner Center on Family Violence Helps
The Evelyn Jacobs Ortner Center serves as a vital resource for policy makers, agency directors, line staff, researchers, and educators as they search for ways to reduce domestic violence. The Center focuses on protecting the rights, safety, and well-being of victims of abuse and neglect in all of its many forms. Interdisciplinary collaboration across Penn's campus is a cornerstone of this unique Center.

Learn more about the center here: http://impact.sp2.upenn.edu/ortner/
Dr. Susan B. Sorenson, expert on violence prevention
Professor Susan B. Sorenson has a unique interdisciplinary background in epidemiology, sociology, and psychology. She moved to Penn in 2006 after more than 20 years at the UCLA School of Public Health. Since 1986, she has taught a graduate course in family and sexual violence - the first violence prevention course in a school of public health in the nation. She currently teaches three courses that she developed: Foundations of Public Health, Guns & Health, and Non-stranger Violence.

With more than 100 publications to her credit, Professor Sorenson has published widely in the epidemiology and prevention of violence, including the areas of homicide, suicide, sexual assault, child abuse, battering, and firearms. A primary focus of her work is the social context in which violence occurs, specifically, the norms that shape whether and how violence is tolerated.

In addition to her academic work, Dr. Sorenson has served on the board of directors and advisory boards of local community-based organizations, state government agencies, and university injury prevention centers. In 1991, she co-founded the Violence Prevention Coalition of Greater Los Angeles, a broad coalition of agencies and individuals which continues to this day. She has provided invited testimony on violence prevention at the local, state, and federal levels.
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Dr. Susan B. Sorenson is an expert in violence prevention.
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